Yesterday kicked off “Respect Life Month” and the year-long pro-life program by the US Catholic Church. This year’s theme is “Moved by Mercy.” It draws on a quote from Pope Francis when he called for the Jubilee Year of Mercy: “We are called to show mercy because mercy has been shown to us.” The church’s program (with online brochures and webpages that can be found at www.usccb.org/respectlife) focuses on women and men suffering after abortion, individuals tempted to end their lives, couples longing to conceive a child, people pushed to the margins of society by a ‘throwaway culture,’ and expectant mothers facing challenging pregnancies. The church holds pretty high standards when it comes to the teachings on these issues. (ie., the church is against assisted suicide, in vitro fertilization, contraception and of course, abortion.) In short, it upholds God’s teachings in the Bible. I remember when my husband and I were questioning these high standards when he was going through the RCIA process…and the priest sitting in on the class that night explained that the Catholic Church simply “raises the bar” when it comes to moral, ethical and spiritual teachings. Those words will always stay with me…they removed any doubts I had that the Church is limited or “radical” in its teachings…and confirmed what I fully believe now: that God set down His guidelines for us in the Bible (His Word) for us to follow. It is we human beings who try to complicate it all, or “water it down” to fit our own desires. Those words have helped me to stay on the path of writing Modern Day Bible Stories (novels that are based on stories in the Old Testament of the Bible, closely following the plot but written through contemporary, fast-paced, suspense/romance that’s more entertaining and easy to read so people can still get God’s message)…even when friends and family question and challenge me on why I write “religious” fiction or books based on the Bible. And more importantly, it has helped me stay on the path of remaining faithful to God’s teachings amidst a society that continues to veer away from them. Ever urging us to stay true to our faith, St. Paul tells us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8) We are all sinners, but we also are all called to be saints!